Greece will not cooperate with the EU and IMF mission bankrolling the country nor seek an extension to the bailout programme, according to its new finance minister. As Ivor Bennett reports, the comments came after his first meeting with the Eurogroup head Jeroen Disselbloem in Athens.
It all started so well. Euro zone finance boss Jeroen Dijsselbloem was given a warm welcome in Athens by new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The pair kicking-off Greece's crucial debt talks. The climate soon turned frosty though. The clouds gathering on cue ahead of Dijsselbloem's next stop - the finance ministry. Despite his relaxed appearance, host Yanis Varoufakis was in combative mood. Resasserting his party's anti-austerity pledges that won the election, and flat out refusing to request an extension. (SOUNDBITE)(Greek) GREEK FINANCE MINISTER YANIS VAROUFAKIS, SAYING: "Our government will proceed to seek the utmost cooperation with the legal institutions of the euro zone and the IMF; but with the troika, which aims at implementing a programme whose logic we consider anti-European, with this committee which according to the European Parliament is poorly structured, we do not aim to work with." Visibly enraged, Dijsselbloem refused to take the bait. Instead standing up, delivering an abrupt whisper, and making a speedy exit. The stand-off was a slap in the face for markets. Greek stocks dropping nearly two percent and losing earlier gains. Investors had been buoyed by developments in Brussels overnight. Where Greece backed an extension to sanctions on Russia despite fears they would veto. The optimism that followed even overshadowed the halting of another privatisation plan. The sale of Greece's state natural gas utility the latest deal to be cancelled. The finmin's fireworks though have set pulses racing once more. With Brussels unlikely to show any leniency, says Rabobank's Jane Foley. SOUNDBITE (English) JANE FOLEY, RABOBANK, SAYING: "There are elections of course later this year in Portugal as well as in Spain, and I think if there was too much conciliation given to Greece then it would make other people in other peripheral countries a little bit discontent perhaps about the suffering they've had to put up with in these last few years in order to go through the terms of their own bailouts." Being too firm, though, has its own problems. Greek banks are being kept afloat by the ECB And credit agencies have warned of a ratings cut should negotiations stall. The two sides don't have long - Greece's current bailout programme due to end in just one month.